Monday night (February 6, 2012) from 5 pm to 7 pm at the City Council chambers at Lowell City Hall (375 Merrimack Street), the MBTA will hold a public hearing on the fee increase and service cutbacks to commuter rail that have been proposed to help balance the T’s budget. The proposal would increase the one-way train fare from Lowell to Boston from the current $6.75 to $9.75, a jump of 44.4%. Perhaps more damaging to residents of Lowell will be the complete elimination of all weekend service which would wipe out a total of 16 trains, 8 in each direction, which run every two hours on the weekends. Also eliminated would be after 10 pm weekday trains which would eliminate the 10:40 pm and 12:10 am Boston to Lowell runs and the 10:35 pm Lowell to Boston train. Today’s Globe has an article that analyzes the reasons behind the financial shortfall at the MBTA.
The proposed service cutback will be devastating to Lowell. Many of our residents work or go to school in Boston and not necessarily at 9 to 5 weekday jobs. While we have excellent hospitals here in Lowell, many of our residents take advantage of the best-in-the-world health care available at some Boston hospitals and while normal appointments might not be late nights and weekends, some are and there’s always the need to visit hospitalized relatives and friends. The best way to get to and from an event at Boston Garden (or whatever it’s called now) is by train and the elimination of after-10 pm trains would erase that as an option. This doesn’t even consider those from greater Boston who come to Lowell (or who we want to come to Lowell) for education and cultural activities.
In an age where more people are (or should be) returning to cities and cutting back on the use of personal vehicles, making such a drastic cut in the level of public transportation service seems incredibly short-sighted. Please consider showing up at the hearing, even if you do not wish to speak on the issue. Numbers count.